Stone Man of Pico de la Fuente Nueva – Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain - Atlas Obscura
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Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain

Stone Man of Pico de la Fuente Nueva

A rocky face gazes out over an enormous volcanic crater. 

Pico de la Fuente Nueva is part Caldera de Taburiente National Park, the largest volcanic crater on the island of La Palma. The location is known for its stable weather and crystal clear skies, which is why most of the telescopes of the Roque de los Muchachos observatory are built on the northwest slope of this peak.

But this particular peak boasts another treasured feature. There, hanging off the mountainside, is what looks like a man’s face, serenely gazing toward the horizon as if he’s watching over the island. His facial features—forehead, eye sockets, nose, mouth, and chin—are all clearly etched into the rock.

Some say the mysterious mountain man was carved by the old inhabitants of the island, who stayed up on the mountain during summers to herd cattle and be close to the island’s only freshwater source. However, a closer inspection of the rocks shows that this is probably not the case, leading to the conclusion that the intriguing rock formation is indeed natural.

Tourists can trek to the mountain’s summit for a close look at the unusual rock. Standing atop the island’s second-tallest mountain while a crater looms in front of you is an enchanting experience. It’s easy to feel like someone’s watching you—thanks to both the stone face and the many telescopes behind you—so be sure to behave during your visit.

Know Before You Go

There are several trailheads which can be used to climb the mountain. All lie on LP-4, the high mountain road which connects Santa Cruz de La Palma with Garafia and serves to support the astronomical observatories on top of the caldera. Pico de la Fuente Nueva is home to most of the observatories. Road access is restricted to the scientists so that the closest parking lots are at Degollada de Franceses on LP-4 to its east and on the top of Roque de los Muchachos to its west. Other trailheads are at Pico de la Nieve 5.5 miles (nine kilometers) to the south and Pico de la Cruz, 2km to the south-east. Follow LP-1 from the airport through the capital of Santa Cruz. After the city, at El Morro, LP-4 turns off to the left (west). There are signs for the observatories at Roque de los Muchachos. Follow the winding road toward Pico de la Nieve or Roque de los Muchachos. The Pico de la Cruz and Degollada de Franceses trailheads are directly beside the road in its highest section.

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